Getting Out Of MCU Shape For Welcome To Chippendales Took Its Toll On Kumail Nanjiani

When comedians hit the gym, the first thing they seem to shed is their sense of humor. At least, this was the case with Joe Piscopo, who went from being the second-funniest-man on "Saturday Night Live" during the Eddie Murphy era to, well, whatever it is he's doing today. Then again, there was ample evidence pre-bulk that Piscopo might've been little more than an above-average mimic who frequently shared a television screen with the greatest comedic talent of his generation.

In any event, when Kumail Nanjiani bulked up for the MCU's "Eternals," I felt a strange mix of emotions. On one hand, it was nifty, if not downright aspirational, to see the once-lithe actor pack on some muscle and play a superhero. On the other, I was worried about the Piscopo syndrome. Could Nanjiani still be funny if he looked more like Dave Bautista than Dave Chappelle? Most disconcerting of all: why was I obsessing over the physical bearing of a grown-ass man who can make his own grown-ass decisions?

Fortunately, I don't have to worry about such trivialities anymore because Nanjiani got good and doughy for his leading role in Hulu's "Welcome to Chippendales."

Sometimes you have to eat your way into a role

In a recent appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Nanjiani revealed that he eschewed his workout regimen to play the part of Chippendale's founder Somen "Steve" Banerjee. As Kimmel notes at the beginning of the interview, many of us assumed Nanjiani, given his previously-buff state, had been cast as one of the male strip club's dancers. Not so! Banerjee was a businessman who could fill out a suit and then some. So Nanjiani, ever the committed performer, did the responsible thing and ate his tuchus off.

As the actor told Kimmel:

"[Banerjee] can't look like someone who could get on stage and dance with them, and for a little point in my life I did look like I could. And so I was like, 'I wanna change how I look.' So I was eating four huge meals a day, I was eating fried chickens. I would get home at night and order a fried chicken sandwich with fries, eat, and go right to bed. It was glorious. I remember those days. Oh my god, I'm getting excited thinking about it."

How to achieve the perfect eating and breathing balance

Nanjiani's commitment came with a cost. He developed sleep apnea, which, according to a sleep study, left him struggling to breathe 15 times an hour. Suddenly, he was on the other end of the fitness spectrum, and legitimately worried about his sporadic inability to breathe — which, if prolonged, could lead to death.

Fortunately, Nanjiani's doctor gave him a CPAP machine, which ensured he would not stop breathing long enough to end his time on this planet. This understandably altered his perspective on overeating. "It really felt great for a while," he said. "It was when, you know, when I stopped breathing in the middle of the night, that cut my enjoyment down by at least 50 percent."

We recently learned that the MCU has more plans for "Eternals," so Nanjiani might be called upon to reprise his role of Kingo. His character in "Welcome to Chippendales" comes to a rather decisive end, so he won't have to ping-pong between a musclebound superhero and sleazy club owner unless the latter type of character really appeals to him. As for Joe Piscopo, he turned 71 this year and hasn't made anyone laugh since 1988's underrated "Dead Heat."